Boost for Digital Services and Sanitation in Kiribati

WASHINGTON  – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved two new projects – with a combined commitment of US$31.5 million (approximately AU$44 million) – to strengthen Government’s online systems and services, and to increase access to improved sanitation for more than 20,000 people in the capital of Kiribati, South Tarawa.

The first of the two new projects, the US$19.5million (approximately AU$27m) World Bank-funded South Tarawa Sanitation Project will invest in improved sanitation infrastructure in Kiribati’s largest and most densely populated island – South Tarawa. This initiative will improve delivery of government sanitation services and will help more than 20,000 individuals in the capital, South Tarawa, to access improved sanitation services.

In addition, the US$12m (approximately AU$17 million) Kiribati Digital Government Project will build the Government’s capability to deliver online (internet-based) services to the population, including on the Outer islands, over a 5-year period. The Project will also support legislation and regulations promoting safe and secure internet use and data protection. The project includes work to drive women’s business opportunities, improve women’s access to online services, including healthcare, social protection, education, and financial services, as well as improving online safety for women and girls.

The project is aligned with Kiribati’s National ICT Policy 2019 and the country’s 20-year vision. It strengthens core government information systems and databases to enable rollout of digital services, issuance of digital IDs for up to 20,000 people, and the development of a “one-stop” national government portal to facilitate individuals’ and business’ access to public information and key services.

“The remoteness of Kiribati, the distance between its 20 inhabited islands and the scarce land resources, presents complex challenges that require innovative solutions,” said Lasse Melgaard, World Bank Resident Representative for the South Pacific.

“We are pleased to be supporting Kiribati to invest in improved sanitation and boost vital ICT services through these two projects. These new projects are important new investments in our commitment to supporting Kiribati’s resilience.”

“We are at the forefront of climate change, and challenges pertaining to governance, efficient delivery of online services and improved sanitation for the most remote parts of our country are even more critical now than ever before, particularly for delivering better access to services for women,” says Honorable Vice President and Minister of Finance Dr Teuea Toatu.

“These two new projects will help us amplify our efforts to boost our government’s online systems and services – and on a more basic level ensure we are able to improve sanitation, especially for the most vulnerable in Kiribati. Both projects will be vital for helping us to better serve our nation.”

The two new projects come on the back of the recent announcement earlier this month of a US$20 million commitment to climate adaptation and resilience in Kiribati’s outer island communities. All three projects are funded through grants from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the world’s most in-need countries.